An example of patterns in Permaculture Design or elaborating on El Niño

The 2 main principles in Permaculture Design are 7 e 12 (see the development framework in systemic approach)

7 – Design from Pattern to Detail
12 – Use and respond to change creatively

They cover the spatial and temporal dimensions and cannot be separated one from each other when creating or when observing an existing design for adaptation.


When considering principle 7 it is necessary to see that it includes as well the time dimension. The following diagram shows a pattern on the evolution of El Niño over time;


Source :

From this diagram I can project a situation in the future. Here, going from Pattern to Detail means going from a global vision (global model) to a local situation (a reduce period of time in the future).
Since I need as well to restrain my analysis to a local part of the spatial dimension I’ll focus on Brazil / Bahia where I’m located. Weather spatial modeling (Walker circulation) show that El Niño creates currently a zone of high pressure (anticyclone) on the Northeast of Brazil, preventing clouds formation (rain) and compensating the low pressure located west by producing constant dry winds.

El Niño / La Niña evolution as shown in the diagram indicates the trend for the 2016 summer with precipitation back to normal or a bit higher in the northeast.

My response to this change will be to

-Take advantage of upcoming humidity next year by planting trees and
-Create a situation able to stand more adequately to the next influencing El Niño in approximately 5 years time; a more densified forest with tree species having deep root
-Orientate the roadmap toward more rain harvesting and water storage capacity.

From existing patterns to adaptation

This example shows as well that Patterns and Designs may already exist and need to be identified before to elaborate on them. Principle 7 applies not only in the creation of a new design but as well in the adaptation of existing design, either man made or natural.


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